It seems like the milk of therapeutic Christianity is today’s food of choice. If some of the posts on the internet are anything to go by, the Bible is little more than a depository for “name it and claim it” texts. You don’t have to visit too many Christian Facebook groups to discover people are slicing and dicing the Bible to fit their wants and desires or parsing passages to accommodate their views. The dominant hermeneutic seems to be governed by “what this means to me” and “what makes me feel good”. And some of the popular posts, the ones that get hundreds of “Amen’s”, are the ones that bolster flagging spirits with promises of health and wealth.
At a time when the Bible seems to be relegated to something less than it is, God’s people should affirm that it isn’t a self-help book and it’s more than a collection of inspirational verses. It’s the Book of books. Unlike every other book, the Bible is God given with (metaphorically speaking) His fingerprints all over it. And as such, it is “useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way” 2 Timothy 3:16 (Msg).
So here’s to developing and holding a high view of Scripture – to giving Scripture the primary place in informing and directing all that we say and do.
But what does a high view of Scripture look like? And how do we develop it? For starters, it involves thought and action – a lifetime of training our minds to die to cultural, religious and other preconceptions that hinder our understanding of who God is and what He’s done for us.
Here’s the rub: Five minutes a day in the Word, doesn’t cut it. A high view of Scripture requires intellectual labour. To dine on meat we must wrestle with the text and battle against our own laziness. And that’s not easy. We need to be constantly adjusting and straightening out our views as we reflect on the Scriptures. Which doesn’t happen overnight. Developing a high view of Scripture takes years of obedience; of submitting to the Holy Spirit, of not imposing our initial views on the Word, of striving to live with what we don’t understand or what makes us uncomfortable.
That’s not to say that a high view of Scripture is something developed with me, myself and I. Far from it. The regular engagement with Scripture in the private realm must be in tandem with and informed by the church. That is, our views of Scripture should be judged and remade in the context of the community of faith as it draws on the collective wisdom and understanding that’s gleaned from both the past and present study of the Word.
Ultimately, a high view of Scripture is one that submits itself to God’s authority as He exercises it in and through the Scriptures. It’s surrendering our inclination to control God. It’s recognizing that we cannot and should not try to fit Him into our inflexible boxes of what we think He should be like or expect Him to do. And it’s the recognition that the Bible is not an end in itself – God is God and we must live under His authority in ways that bring honour and glory to Him.
Finally, let’s remember that when we invest ourselves in the study of the Scriptures, it’s worth every ounce of effort. The benefits are the renewing of the mind; a transformation wherein God fills us with faith and hope and the capacity to love others as Christ loved us. Stated succinctly, the payback for developing and holding a high view of Scripture is that “through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us” 2 Timothy 3:17 (Msg).
© Scripture Union Canada 2016